Cape Cod, Massachusetts Travel Guide (2023): Best Things to Do
Last Updated on December 16, 2022 by Dana Berez
Cape Cod Massachusetts Travel Guide
Relaxing beach towns, miles of shoreline, adorable Cape Cod cottages, lighthouses, and a calming destination, Cape Cod is the perfect getaway from NYC or Boston. I spent a few days touring around Cape Cod checking out different towns and things to do in Cape Cod.
While Cape Cod is quite large, driving from Provincetown to Mid Cape is about an hour drive, you can see and do a lot of activities if you plan it out.
This was my first time to Cape Cod and I was curious to see what this popular beachside vacation island is all about. And I had a few questions on how to get around, and where to stay. So let me break it down for you so you can plan your trip easier.
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Where is Cape Cod, Massachusetts?
Cape Cod is technically an island, and it’s located in the southernmost part of Massachusetts. To get to Cape Cod you have to drive over the Sagamore Bridge or Bourne Bridge to enter. (See it really is an island)
And a little fact I learned from the locals, never say “in Cape Cod”, always refer to it as “on Cape Cod”. The locals will appreciate it, trust me.
How far is Cape Cod from Boston?
From Boston to Cape Cod is around 70 Miles, so the drive from Boston is around 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on traffic. If you are driving to the furthest point to popular Provincetown, it will take you 2 hours. The close distance from Boston makes this a great getaway option for many.
How far is it from NYC?
The drive from NYC to Cape Cod is around 4 hours and 15 minutes. While this route is definitely longer than Boston, you can still make the drive for a long weekend with having enough time to relax.
How to Get around Cape Cod Massachusetts?
If you want to check out a few towns on the Cape, the best way to get around is by car. However, if you just plan on visiting Provincetown, you can take a ferry from Boston and Uber around.
Just a note, Cape Cod is pretty large, so just be aware that you might not be able to get to everything you want to when visiting. I wanted to do a day trip to both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, but there was not enough time.
Where to stay in Cape Cod Massachusetts?
There are plenty of different areas you can stay while visiting, and each has its own energy and vibe. I stayed in Dennis Port, located in the heart of Cape Cod. This town was very calm and relaxed, and right on the beach. I liked staying in a centrally located town as it was close driving to other towns and just about 45 minutes to Provincetown.
Cape Cod Hotels On the Beach:
- Pelham House Resort: I stayed at the Pelham House Resort which was located right on the beach with a large pool, cozy fire pits, and a delicious rooftop restaurant. Service here was incredible, and the rooms were modern and updated with a private balcony.
Other popular towns to stay in are Chatham, a beautiful beachfront town with a cute downtown area filled with shops and restaurants. Or if you want to stay in the liveliest part of town, book a room in Provincetown.
When to Visit Cape Cod Massachusetts?
For the best weather, summer is the best time to visit; however, expect prices and crowds to be up. I visited in September, and while the weather was a bit cooler, there weren’t a lot of crowds. Plus the fall leaves were just changing which made the drive from Boston so scenic.
Another tip: If you can visit during the weekday, you’ll find better prices on hotels and accommodations vs the weekend.
Things to do in Cape Cod
1. Check out the Beaches
Cape Cod is known for being a beach town destination, so visiting a few beaches should be a must! There a few hotels that are located right on a beach, but if you’re staying more inland you can check out these popular beaches:
- Race Point Beach, Provincetown
- Harding Beach, Chatham
- Coast Guard Beach, Eastham
2. Tour Provincetown, MA
Provincetown is one of the most popular destinations on the Cape. Located in the northern tip of the island, Provincetown was the site of the Mayflower arriving in 1620. There are plenty of shops, restaurants, including being one of the most LGBT friendly places. Check out Commercial Street to find the center of town.
Tip: If you are driving to P-Town, parking can be hard to find on the street. There are plenty of spaces on Mac Millan Pier Parking Lot. There are two vendors here selling parking from $15 for the entire day. From this parking lot, you’ll be in the heart of the center of town.
3. Try a Lobster Roll
And when you’re in Provincetown, be sure to try a Lobster Roll at the Lobster Pot. If you have time to sit down for a meal check out the original location on Commercial Street. But if you want a Lobster Roll to go head to the Lobster Pot express a block away on Ryder Street.
There are two types of Lobster Rolls here: Lobster Salad Roll, which is served classic and cold (the one pictured above) or the Hot Lobster Roll that has warm lobster meat with butter. I didn’t get to try the Hot Lobster Roll, but something tells me it’s delicious.
4. Visit Truro Vineyards
I always love sampling local items when traveling, so visiting a winery was a must on my list. Truro Vineyards came up as a recommendation and I am so glad I went.
Truro Vineyards is located in North Truro and produces more than a dozen varietals a year. You can sample the wines right in the heart of their 5-acre farm. There are plenty of seats, but we lucked out on the cutest adjoining chair right between the chardonnay grapes.
Each tasting is $15 for 5 wines, and after your tasting, you get to keep your glass.
5. Day Trip to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard
A popular day excursion is either visiting Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. Be sure you allow a full day to visit one of the islands. To visit the islands catch the ferry at Hyannis Port. Purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.
But if you only can visit one island, I would recommend visiting Nantucket. The island is a bit smaller and once you arrive at the port you will be surrounded by a lively downtown scene. Renting a car isn’t necessary, but always welcome if you want to explore the entire island.
6. FYI: Ice Cream is BIG here:
Ice Cream is big in Cape Cod, and you won’t have a hard time finding a place to indulge. Here are some popular spots for a scoop:
- Cape Cod Creamery, Multiple Locations
- Lewis Brothers Ice Cream, Provincetown
- Sundae School, Multiple Locations
- Buffy’s Ice Cream Shop, Chatham
7. See the Seals
Did you know there is an island off of Cape Cod filled with seals? You can tour Monomoy Island on a boat excursion with Monomoy Island Excursions. Monomoy is a barrier island and wildlife refugee off the coast of Chatham, MA. And while the seals are the highlight of the tour, you also get to see scenic harbors along the Cape.
8. Spend an Afternoon in Chatham
Chatham is a charming town located in the southeastern part of Cape Cod. There is a cute downtown area on Main Street filled with small shops, and restaurants. Had brunch at Lily’s Diner, which was a no-frills spot with an excellent brunch!
Then we drove a few minutes to see the Chatham Lighthouse and took in the pretty view.
By the way, the homes along Shore Road going north are absolutely picturesque. It would be a cute walk to take it all in.
Have any new ideas for your trip to Cape Cod Massachusetts? Let me know in the comments.
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